Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Silencing Christians? Hardly

Apparently there was a controversy over that American Family Association video, Speechless: Silencing Christians, I talked about earlier this week.

It was set to air on Monday in Grand Rapids, MI right before President Obama's press conference. However the television station wanted to reset the airing to another time. Since they received no word from the producers, the station decided to rescind the offer.

The silence you are aware of now stems from the AFA in closed door meetings with other religious right groups as they plot to turn this into another phony case of "Christians being discriminated against."

First of all, the station did not refuse to air tthe program, although I think it would have more than enough reason to. It merely wanted to set the program for another time.

And for the record, Speechless: Silencing Christians, is a one-sided piece of garbage that pushes the usual religious right propaganda against the lgbt community with the usual cast of characters - Matt Barber, Robert Knight, Concerned Women for America, Janet Parshall, etc.

It's possible airing received a strong response. The Human Rights Campaign said the following:

Make no mistake: this is the opening salvo in a coming battle over pro-equality legislation.

Just as we are on the cusp of historic change – a federal hate crimes law, protections for LGBT workers against job discrimination – extremist groups like the AFA are launching a well-funded national campaign of hatred and fear to halt our progress.

This program recycles familiar lies: that hate crime laws will "do away with our freedom of speech," or that pastors will be "criminalized for sharing the love of Jesus Christ." (In fact, the proposed federal hate crimes law explicitly states that it only applies to violent acts – not speech.)

The "anchor" of this faux-news program, which may have already aired in smaller markets, is controversial talk show host Janet Parshall, who in 2006 suggested Matthew Shepard's lifestyle was responsible for his murder and called gay adoption "state-sanctioned child abuse."

We cannot let this bigotry go unanswered. We can't let it scare voters, force LGBT people back into a place of shame and hiding, or create an atmosphere of intolerance or hate.

Before the AFA starts their nonsense, let me say that this is not a case of silencing Christians. And what Speechless was going to do is par for the course for the religious right - present a bunch of unchallenged lies, anecdotes and misconceptions about the lgbt community. They never really want to debate us on their lies. They seem to want to present them in an arena where the rules have been predestined to be in their favor.

I just can't believe that they had the temerity to attempt to it on a regular network.

No doubt the Obama regime has gotten them desperate and scared.

Folks, this is a headless monster in the making. Let's kill it before the religious right can gain traction from it.

The problem with Speechless is that it exploits the feeling of entitlement that some Christians have in this country. They have had their minds filled by James Dobson and company with the idea that America is their country and the rest of us are here by their will and pleasure.

That idea of entitlement makes them susceptible to any anecdote or lie that comes down the pike about them being silenced. We have seen this so many times with the religious right taking incidents and manipulating them to claim that lgbts are out to get Christians. A perfect example is the Ocean Grove Pavilion. The religious right claimed that the church who owned this pavilion was "forced" to allow gays to have marriage ceremonies there. However the true story was that the church was getting tax breaks for the pavilion and a requirement of those tax breaks was that the facility should be open to all.

The program that was to air is filled with half truths like this. If I were a Christian, I would be less worried about being "silenced by lgbts" and more worried about the untruths put out by those who claim to also be Christians.
Parole DENIED for murderer of gay man

Not necessarily a victory but still not a bad thing

I have just received word via email that Stephen Moller, the man who murdered Sean Kennedy in 2007, has been denied early parole.

Here are the facts:

Sean William Kennedy, 20, was attacked in the early morning of May 17, 2007 outside the former Brew's Bar in Greenville, South Carolina. His assailant, Stephen Andrew Moller, pulled up in a car, threw one punch after reportedly yelling anti-gay slurs, and fled. Kennedy died about 17 hours later from the brain injury he sustained, and friends and family believe he was targeted at least in part due to his sexual orientation.

Since South Carolina has no hate crime statute, no enhancement was available for Moller's June 2008 sentence of five years in prison on a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. The judge reduced the sentence to three years with credit for seven months' time served and ordered Moller to seek help to manage anger and substance abuse.

There was a huge possibility that Moller could have gotten out on parole this month. Elke Kennedy, the mother of Stephen, and the SC Progressive Network organized a letter drive geared to persuading the parole board not to let Moller out early.

Yesterday (and I did mention this as the event I had attended), there was a candlelight vigil held at the State House:

Friends and family of Kennedy met at the State House at 5:30pm to protest an early release for Stephen Moller and to hold a candlelight memorial for Kennedy.

There are no hate crime laws in this state, and Kennedy's family is working to change that.

It was just the kind of night Sean's mom says her son would have lived for.

"He always said, 'when I get older, I'm gonna change this, make sure people are treated equally,'" says Elke Kennedy.

But the fact is, Sean Kennedy's death brought many people together.

"This is my mission. Sean's death, in order for it not to be in vain, my job is to do whatever I can to change things so it doesn't happen again," says Kennedy.

Sean's death in Greenville was never deemed a hate crime, because hate crimes aren't recognized in this state.

But if you ask the folks at the rally, they happen.

"In high school, I was accosted constantly, dragged into a bathroom, had my face beat up and lost three teeth from it," said one person.

"We're not here to get revenge," said Kennedy. "This is about social justice, every citizen in South Carolina deserves protection."

Kennedy wants her son's killer to stay in prison. She took her concern to the parole board, asking for him to stay longer than eight months.

Whether it was a hate crime or not, she says its a light sentence for a heavy loss.

"As a matter of fact he is here, he is with us tonight. Maybe that's why we have such a beautiful evening," she said.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are 45 listed hate groups in the state, one of the highest numbers in the US.

In addition, over 400 letters were written to the parole board asking that Moller not be paroled.

This isn't a victory per se. Sean won't be coming back and nothing can take away Elke's pain. She lost her child due to a senseless act.

But since the time of Sean's death, Elke has been speaking out around the state in efforts to bring attention to the need for hate crimes legislation as well as the need to stop the violence that plague lgbt youth.

She should be commended for all that she has done. And although this isn't a victory per se, I hope that she takes solace in the fact that so many are listening to her message.
And continuing the "they hate us and are out to get us" lie - Mike Huckabee

Huckabee: Stimulus is 'anti-religious' - All I can say is thank goodness this man never got anywhere near the White House.

To me, Huckabee is one of the worst propaganda spreaders out there, particularly how he addresses the lgbt community.

"They want tolerance, but they won't show tolerance" meme seems to be his main point in talking about our community. That tactic works when he is on shows like The View and can take an anecdotal incident out of context with no one to challenge him on it. (i.e. Phyllis Burgess)

Or if he ever got around to inviting an lgbt spokesperson on his talk show, I suspect he would pull the "I'm just trying to be compassionate" nonsense.

For those who are not familiar with that tactic - it would comprise of interrupting the guest when he or she is trying to make their point, speaking in a pseudo calm and reassuring manner with a tone that infers that you are addressing an irrational person, and steering the conversation from the needs of the lgbt community to "why does the lgbt community think that everyone hates them."

The tactic is designed to unnerve the guest with a phony sort of kindness and put him or her on the defensive.

That tone is more insulting than that of Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber. At least with those two, you know where you stand.